Tokyo Times and Fashion, Anime and Otaku Culture (part one)
Hiroshi Saito, Michel Lebon and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Tokyo lifestyle is an amazing experience for Tokyoites, tourists and expatriates. The wealth of choices and things to do is boundless. Another amazing feature is that unlike many famous international cities in the world, this ultra-modern capital is extremely safe compared with certain no-go areas in parts of London, Paris, Los Angeles, and so forth, which all have zones of danger. Therefore, the Tokyo “magnet” keeps on drawing people into this fantastic city.
This article is the first of many related to Tokyo lifestyle and places to visit. After all, the huge pulling power of Tokyo applies within Japan and internationally. Also, the unique features of Tokyo are often in the news therefore many people feel a connection with this city and want to know so much more.
If individuals adore fashion then of course they will visit countless districts in this high octane city. The first recommendation is Omotesando because this part of Tokyo shares the same “fashion hub” which belongs to Aoyama, Harajuku, and Shibuya. The sheer size of this enormous “fashion hub” is a wonder to behold.
In Aoyama and Omotesando you will find the crème de la crème of fashion companies and of course Harajuku and Shibuya are equally blessed with some of the finest boutiques to be found in the world. The main difference is that while Harajuku and Shibuya have a noticeable youthful angle which endears teenagers and young adults, the Omotesando and Aoyama angle is mainly based on sophistication.
In saying that, the backstreets of Omotesando are also blessed with independent boutiques which cater for young adults. This especially applies to the casual angle and the power of American fashion mixed with Tokyo fashion can be felt richly. However, the main emphasis in Omotesando and Aoyama applies to the age group between the middle of the twenties to the early forties. Of course, individuals who are younger and older are fully catered for despite the above age group being the target area.
Indeed, the sophistication of some of the boutiques and high price ranges in Aoyama and Omotesando – means that purchasing power of the most exquisite designer clothes is the main focus and not specifically the age group. Of course, this will exclude the target angle being teenagers within the main areas which are blessed with adorable boutiques of extreme quality. Therefore, more mature adults will have ample opportunities to buy adorable items and purchase other top quality fashion goods in Omotesando and Aoyama.
The electric vibe of Omotesando is most noticeable because it is a place to explore and enjoy. Omotesando Hills and Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku (Omohara) have altered the landscape of old Omotesando. However, both fantastic malls cater for fashion lovers and other areas related to lifestyle in Tokyo.
One major feature of major cities like Tokyo and Osaka is the reality of anime and otaku culture. In Tokyo you have many fantastic places to visit in order to fulfill your anime and otaku love affair. One essential shop to visit is Mandrake which is the number one company in Japan for secondhand items related to anime, manga and otaku culture. This company can be found throughout Japan.
Mandrake (http://ekizo.mandarake.co.jp/shop/en/) caters for magazines, hentai comics, art books, cosplay, photography, Bishojo figures, Yaoi doujinshi (brand new and second hand), and a host of other areas. The CEO of this company commented that “Our mission is to take over the world using manga and otaku things” While Mandrake can be found throughout Tokyo and Japan, the store in Nakano in Tokyo is special because of its history related to this vibrant company.
Another fantastic company to visit is Animate which is located in Ikebukuro. Indeed, Ikebukuro fashion is also fantastic. This notably applies to fashion malls including Lumine, Esola, Marui, Parco, Tobu Department Store and Seibu Department Store. Also, you have other areas which focus on casual fashion therefore Ikebukuro is awash with fashion companies catering for many different styles.
Turning back to Animate then Patrick Macias in The Guardian (UK newspaper) states that Animate is“specifically catering to female otaku.” He further comments that the “Eight floors are mostly populated by otaku teens and young adults, and filled with the requisite anime goods and merchandise, but the real selling point here is the large selection of homoerotic-themed manga and novels from the “boy’s love” genre, a popular and influential subculture within a subculture.”
Animate (http://www.animate.co.jp/) also appeals because unlike the relentless hustle and bustle of this scene in Akihabara, this store is a treasure by itself within a vibrant fashion district in Tokyo. The angle of catering for female otaku is also an added bonus along with selling products which cater for otaku fans in general.
Overall, it is clear that Tokyo lifestyle is extremely diverse and this article only delves into a small area of life in Tokyo. However, Tokyo lifestyle is blessed by the reality of fashion and otaku culture irrespective if this angle appeals to individuals or not. Without such a vibrant fashion and otaku culture then Tokyo wouldn’t be the same place.
All fashion images taken by Modern Tokyo Times.